Kayla Ryan’s college experience is like few others as the Huntington High School Class of 2017 member studies across the world through the LIU Global program.
Co-founder and vice president of Huntington’s Interact Club and a mainstay in the high school’s student government, Ms. Ryan pursued various extracurricular interests while maintaining a stellar academic record.
Kayla Ryan as a Huntington High School senior.
Billed as the “only college in the world that combines full-time immersion into foreign countries and cultures with structured classroom instruction, field study, internships and community service,” LIU Global’s four year study abroad program meets all of Ms. Ryan’s educational needs and career interests.
“For my first year of college I lived in Costa Rica where I lived with a host family in the city of Heredia,” she said. “My host family spoke no English whatsoever so it forced me to learn the language very quickly, considering I knew very little before arriving.”
Ms. Ryan easily adapts to different surroundings. “While in Costa Rica, I learned all about Latin American history, the Spanish language, politics, indigenous rights, social entrepreneurship and global studies focusing on culture in that part of the world,” she said. “With my school, I traveled and studied in Nicaragua and Panama for two weeks each. In Panama, we studied in Panama City learning about global economics and trade and then traveled to the islands of Guna Yala where we were able to live with and study different indigenous groups as well as artisan work within these communities.”
Ms. Ryan is in the midst of a unique set of studies. “The curriculum integrates classroom learning with real-world experience from day one, emphasizing development of global leadership skills,” according to the LIU Global website. “Central to the program is language immersion and studying cultural, geographic, environmental, and political aspects of key regions of the world.”
The Huntington grad pursued a pair of community service projects in Costa Rica. “The first involved working at a sea turtle conservation initiative in a beach town called Montezuma and the second required me to live in the indigenous Boruca community for two weeks with a local family and study how they make their traditional artisan products.”
Once the semester wrapped up, Ms. Ryan went backpacking around South America for over a month, where she was able to explore more of Latin America such as the salt flats in Bolivia, Patagonia in Chile, Buenos Aires and other “amazing places,” she said
Ms. Ryan went to Spain for her sophomore year. “I lived in a beautiful city called Alcala de Henares, outside of Madrid,” she said. “Here, I was able to get an internship during the week when I didn’t have classes. I worked at an organization called ACCEM, which focuses on helping refugees and displaced people adapt to life in Spain. I was given the job as ‘profesora,’ where I taught Spanish to these individuals from the Middle East and various parts of Africa.”
The Huntington alum is currently living in Florence, Italy. “I am studying Italian language, Italian culture, as well as global studies with a focus on economics,” Ms. Ryan said.
Ms. Ryan is pursuing an academic major in global studies with a focus on culture. She has a minor in Spanish and is completing the credits she needs to also qualify for minors in international relations and social entrepreneurship.
“I’m having the most amazing time,” Ms. Ryan said. “Being able to fully immerse myself in other cultures and learn about the world and different types of people first hand has always been my passion. It’s definitely not for everyone and is definitely extremely difficult to do at my age, but it’s perfect for me.”
Once she completes her undergraduate degree, Ms. Ryan plans to attend law school. “I intend to become a human rights lawyer,” she said.